This project is concerned with understanding extinction, the loss of learned performance that occurs when a Pavlovian signal or an instrumental action is repeatedly presented without its reinforcer. Extinction is a fundamental phenomenon of .behavior, and it provides a crucial tool used in clinical treatments designed to eliminate unwanted thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in humans. Although it is tempting to assume that extinction destroys the original learning, extinguished performance readily recovers, and several recovery effects (e.g., renewal, reinstatement, rapid reacquisition, and spontaneous recovery) indicate that the original learning may be largely intact. In addition, because these effects can be interpreted as effects of changing the background or """"""""context,"""""""" they suggest that extinction results from new inhibitory learning that is especially sensitive to the context in which it is learned. The goal of this project is to seek an integrated understanding of extinction as it is revealed in these and other response-recovery processes. Several sets of experiments with rat subjects will analyze how extinction and other forms of learning are influenced by the passage of time (a change in the """"""""temporal context""""""""). They will also examine ways to reduce spontaneous recovery and test a new hypothesis explaining why practice that is distributed in time may produce better learning than practice that is massed in time. Another set of experiments will analyze a different set of extinction and recovery effects (secondary extinction, concurrent recovery, and resurgence) with the goal of incorporating them in a unified account of extinction. A third set of experiments will study the effects of several drugs (d-cycloserine, yohimbine, and AM404) that are thought to have potential for facilitating extinction learning. Although such drugs hold promise as adjuncts to extinction therapy, their effects on extinction and especially the various recovery (relapse) processes under investigation here are essentially unknown at present. The results will increase our understanding of extinction, a fundamental behavioral and clinical phenomenon, and will suggest ways to help promote extinction learning so as to minimize lapse and relapse.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Biobehavioral Regulation, Learning and Ethology Study Section (BRLE)
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Vicentic, Aleksandra
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University of Vermont & St Agric College
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Bouton, Mark E; Todd, Travis P; León, Samuel P (2014) Contextual control of discriminated operant behavior. J Exp Psychol Anim Learn Cogn 40:92-105
Bouton, Mark E; Woods, Amanda M; Todd, Travis P (2014) Separation of time-based and trial-based accounts of the partial reinforcement extinction effect. Behav Processes 101:23-31
Bouton, Mark E; Todd, Travis P; Miles, Olivia W et al. (2013) Within- and between-session variety effects in a food-seeking habituation paradigm. Appetite 66:10-9
Todd, Travis P (2013) Mechanisms of renewal after the extinction of instrumental behavior. J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process 39:193-207
Winterbauer, Neil E; Lucke, Sara; Bouton, Mark E (2013) Some Factors Modulating the Strength of Resurgence After Extinction of an Instrumental Behavior. Learn Motiv 44:60-71
Todd, Travis P; Winterbauer, Neil E; Bouton, Mark E (2012) Contextual control of appetite. Renewal of inhibited food-seeking behavior in sated rats after extinction. Appetite 58:484-9
Todd, Travis P; Winterbauer, Neil E; Bouton, Mark E (2012) Effects of the amount of acquisition and contextual generalization on the renewal of instrumental behavior after extinction. Learn Behav 40:145-57
Winterbauer, Neil E; Bouton, Mark E (2012) Effects of thinning the rate at which the alternative behavior is reinforced on resurgence of an extinguished instrumental response. J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process 38:279-91
Bouton, Mark E; Doyle-Burr, Caleb; Vurbic, Drina (2012) Asymmetrical generalization of conditioning and extinction from compound to element and element to compound. J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process 38:381-93
Bouton, Mark E; Winterbauer, Neil E; Todd, Travis P (2012) Relapse processes after the extinction of instrumental learning: renewal, resurgence, and reacquisition. Behav Processes 90:130-41

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